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Entertainment on a shoestring – All under $25



You’ve probably heard people describe Melbourne as an “arts city”. Why do they say this? We’re not all wearing monocles and top hats on the tram, singing our coffee orders in B-flat minor and then pirouetting away down the street. It’s true to say we have some juicy art history under our belts – like the time someone stole a painting by Picasso from the National Gallery of Victoria and hid it in a locker at the old Spencer Street Station. Or the time we converted a brewery into a theatre and nobody cried. But there’s more to being an arts city than telling really good anecdotes. It’s about putting galleries everywhere we can fit them (from an old dairy farm to a train station subway), hosting live music every night of the week, running free drawing classes, amateur glee club nights, spelling bees and outdoor dance classes. Not to mention hiding a cow up a tree at Docklands, a 13-metre high bird on the Eastern Freeway and Mad Max’s car at Fed Square. This little book is a guide to hundreds of free and affordable goings-on in Melbourne – and right around Victoria. Read on for music, comedy, art, theatre, dance, reading, writing and road trips – top hats or tracky dacks welcome.


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Museums, galleries and art to look at


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Theatre, cabaret, comedy, dance… art to watch


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A calendar of arty fun


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Art that’s music to your ears


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The art of words


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Artful ways to keep kids entertained


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Art outside of Melbourne’s city limits


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Our guide to Melbourne’s arts guides



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Bigger than a city block or buried in a subway, Melbourne’s galleries are fun to find – and they’re mostly free to visit. Depending where you look you can see masterpieces, Mad Max’s car and a 63-metre-long dragon. Join a gallery tour, take a free drawing class or write a song for a sculpture.


Hi Phip. Tell us about what you do. I am a very typical arts person – I do a bunch of different things (and hope that all together it somehow pays my rent). I am an artist, writer, lecturer at RMIT, board member of un Magazine and Director of West Space.

So, what is an ARI, exactly? An ARI can be anything you want it to be – and that’s exactly what I like about them. ‘ARI’ is the acronym for ‘artist-run initiative’ and they come in a multitude of forms – galleries, magazines, publishing projects, pogostick clubs (okay, the last one may be a stretch). Basically, it’s the name for a bunch of people who share the same passion coming together to make a project (usually for love not money). I am the director of West Space, an artist-run initiative with an illustrious history stretching back to its beginnings in 1993 in Footscray.

What do you love about Melbourne’s art world? I love the incredible proliferation of ARIs! Melbourne is internationally renowned for its independent arts projects. Very clever people are creating very clever projects all over this town. It’s inspiring.

How can people get involved? (Can we just turn up to the openings?) You have to pay a one billion dollar entrance fee to come to West Space. (If only!) Participating in ARIs is usually free – we are all very friendly ‘open door’ places. Please come along to exhibition openings, artist talks, performances and other events. The more the merrier.

Did you discover any juicy historical tidbits while writing The NGV Story? I was desperately hoping that my intrepid reporting skills would crack the mystery of who stole the Picasso from the NGV in 1986. Alas, that remains unsolved.



Phip Murray loves art, but she’s also good at organising artists – a rare skill which qualifies her to be in charge at WEST SPACE, one of Melbourne’s oldest artist-run galleries. Apart from planning exhibitions, cleaning up after openings and re-painting gallery walls, Phip has recently written a book – The NGV Story – about the 150-year history of the National Gallery of Victoria. We asked her a few questions about “ARIs”, as well as Melbourne’s juicy art history.


LOOK Public Galleries ARTS CENTRE MELBOURNE It’s a renowned venue for classical and contemporary music, opera and theatre – but there are plenty of exhibitions to see at Arts Centre Melbourne, too. In the gallery spaces you’ll find art, design, photographs and costumes celebrating iconic Australian performers – previous exhibitions have starred Dame Nellie Melba, Acca Dacca and Playschool! In the foyer, don’t miss the paintings by Sidney Nolan, John Olsen, Jeffrey Smart, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and many other Aussie greats. 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne | artscentremelbourne. | 1300 182 183 | Mon-Sat 9am-9pm | Sun 10am-5pm

AUSTRALIAN CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART (ACCA) From a distance ACCA looks like Uluru. Unlike our beloved rock, however, it has a door – and inside you’ll find Melbourne’s largest contemporary art gallery. With free entry, a big program of talks, a bookshop and an espresso machine in the foyer, it’s also a perfect weekend hangout. Previous exhibitions have featured a hidden desert island and a horse in the gallery! Keep an eye on the program to avoid missing out. 111 Sturt St, Southbank | | 03 9697 9999 | Tue-Fri 10am-5pm | Sat-Sun 11am-6pm

AUSTRALIAN CENTRE FOR THE MOVING IMAGE (ACMI) Check out the history of the moving image in Screen Worlds – a free permanent exhibition that features everything from Mad Max’s car to an interactive Matrix camera (and, of course, video games). A hub for film lovers, ACMI offers a year-round program of premiere screenings, talks, workshops and exhibitions. Tickets are always cheaper than you’d expect for a night at the movies, and the program includes dedicated Seniors’ Cinema events. Federation Square, Melbourne | | 03 8663 2200 | Daily 10am-6pm (exhibitions) | 10am-late (films, talks, events) | Film tickets: adult from $11

CITY GALLERY It’s easy to spot the Melbourne Town Hall, but the giant heritage building on the corner of Swanston and Collins streets hides some littleknown treasures. Pop into the City Gallery near the MetShop and you’ll find regular exhibitions about Melbourne’s over-looked wonders. We’re talking inner-city wildlife, vintage posters, letters from 1860 and even park bench designs. It’s a window into Melbourne’s weird and wonderful history. 110 Swanston St, Melbourne | au/citygallery | 03 9658 9658 | Mon 10am-2pm | Tue-Fri 11am-6pm | Sat 10am-4pm

HEIDE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART Once upon a time (okay, in 1934) John and Sunday Reed bought a dairy farm, named it Heide and invited their friends to stay. The guests, including Australian art legends Sidney Nolan and Albert Tucker, are now known as the ‘Heide Circle’. And the farm is home to three modern and contemporary art galleries, a picnicfriendly sculpture park and Shannon Bennett’s cafe. Somehow, though, it’s still as relaxing as a country jaunt. 7 Templestowe Rd, Bulleen | | 03 9850 1500 | Tue-Sun 10am-5pm | Some exhibitions ticketed | Adult from $14




A sister to the NGV’s St Kilda Road gallery, NGV Australia is all about Australian art. There are more than 800 pieces on show at any one time and the permanent display includes famous contemporary works such as Nest – Patricia Piccinini’s very humanlike pair of motor scooters. You’ll also come face to face with iconic colonial paintings – including Tom Roberts’ Shearing The Rams – and the world’s largest collection of Australian Indigenous art. Federation Square, Melbourne | | 03 8660 2222 | Tue-Sun 10am-5pm | Some exhibitions ticketed | Adult from $15

Since 1962, Monash University has been quietly collecting works by a who’s who of contemporary Australian artists. Now in spacious new digs at Monash Caulfield, art by Howard Arkley, Arthur Boyd and Tracey Moffatt is only a hop, skip or short train ride away. Year-round, MUMA hosts free exhibitions, artist talks and opening events (with nice cheese and biscuits). In the warmer months look out for music, face-painting and BBQs in the courtyard. Building F, Monash University Caulfield Campus | 900 Dandenong Rd, Caulfield East | /muma | 03 9905 4217 | Tue-Fri 10am-5pm | Sat 12-5pm




It’s not just books and brains tucked away inside the University of Melbourne. There’s also an impressive and ever-growing collection of artworks dating back to the 1800s. The university’s Ian Potter Museum of Art offers a glimpse into the collection’s gems, as well as exhibitions by contemporary artists. The entrance is hard to miss – featuring a tangle of classical sculptures bursting out of the wall, not to mention the much-loved Potter Espresso Bar. 800 Swanston St, Carlton | | 03 8344 5148 | Tue-Fri 10am-5pm | Sat-Sun 12-5pm

Australia’s oldest public gallery just turned 150 – but it’s definitely not old-fashioned. Step behind the famous St Kilda Road ‘water wall’ and you’ll find three huge floors of exhibitions – from worldfamous masterpieces to contemporary artworks from the gallery’s permanent collection. Lie down and admire the stained glass ceiling in the Great Hall or browse the NGV Shop – and keep an eye out for free ‘art after dark’ events in winter. 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne | | 03 8620 2222 | Wed-Mon 10am-5pm | Some exhibitions ticketed | Adult from $15



If you feel like looking an Australian legend in the eye, pop in to visit good old Phar Lap at the Melbourne Museum. Once you’ve said hi, you can also check out the famous shorts of AC/DC’s Angus Young, discover the hidden workings of the human body, explore a real forest – and even meet some bugs (who, unlike Melbourne’s favourite horse, are still very much alive). Museum Memberships make entry fees even cheaper. 11 Nicholson St, Carlton | au/melbournemuseum | 13 11 02 | Daily 10am-5pm | Kids free | Adult from $10

A memorable Melbourne landmark, the Old Treasury building at the top of Bourke Street was designed by a 19-year-old architecture prodigy named J.J. Clark. A hundred and fifty years later it’s home to changing exhibitions and a trove of historical treasures. Wander the underground vaults, take a peek at the living quarters of the building’s first tenants and read the last remaining letter penned by Ned Kelly himself! 20 Spring St, Melbourne | | 03 9651 2233 | Sun-Fri 10am-4pm


STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA GALLERIES There’s more to the State Library than words, homework and WiFi access. The Dome galleries house two permanent exhibitions – Mirror of the World and The Changing Face of Victoria – while artworks in the Cowen Gallery explore Victoria’s historical events. The annual State Library of Victoria Fellowship gives contemporary artists money, time and library space to research new work. (The 2010 winner released 10,000 paper planes from the huge domed ceiling LaTrobe Reading Room!) 328 Swanston St, Melbourne | | 03 8664 7000 | Mon-Thu 10am-9pm | Fri-Sun 10am-6pm | Dome galleries: Daily 10am-5pm

Specialist Galleries ARTS PROJECT AUSTRALIA Founded in 1974, Arts Project Australia provides training and exhibition space for artists with intellectual disabilities. Head down to one of their monthly exhibition openings and (once you’ve jostled past the keen bean collectors) you’ll find some of the most lively and refreshingly unpretentious art in Melbourne. Their Northcote headquarters includes a gallery as well as a shop with a range of artwork, books, cards, stationery and films for sale. 24 High St, Northcote | | 03 9482 4484 | Mon-Fri 9am-5pm | Sat 10am-5pm

AUSTRALIAN PRINT WORKSHOP Whether you’re interested in the printmaking process or the final result, a guided tour of the Australian Print Workshop is fascinating. It’s also much more stimulating than clicking ‘print’ and waiting for the old laser jet to warm up.

For thirty years the APW has been exhibiting prints made by the artists who use their studios, as well as collaborating with local Indigenous artists and international visitors. 210 Gertrude St, Fitzroy | | 03 9419 5466 | Tues-Sat 10am-5pm | Group tours from $5 adult, bookings required

AUSTRALIAN TAPESTRY WORKSHOP One of the world’s oldest artforms is alive and kicking at the Australian Tapestry Workshop. Expert weavers work with guest artists to make contemporary tapestries using techniques invented in the 14th century! It’s all done with Australian wool, which is dyed on-site in 366 different colours – and you’re welcome to buy a ball for yourself. Drop in and browse the exhibitions or join a guided tour to watch the weavers at work. 262-266 Park St, South Melbourne | | 03 9699 7885 | Mon-Fri 9am-5pm | Guided tours Wed 11am-12pm | Thu 2-3pm | Tours adult $10

CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY (CCP) Looking very much like a picture frame itself, the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP) invites you through its enormous glass door to explore four galleries laid out in a spiral formation. With a monthly program of free exhibitions, CCP explores the outer limits of photography. (Don’t miss the tiny shop at the centre of the spiral.) And, for those who arrive after hours, the night projection window is visible from the street. 404 George St, Fitzroy | | 03 9417 1549 | Wed-Fri 11am-6pm | Sat-Sun 12-5pm

CHINESE MUSEUM Housed in a four-story turn-of-the-century warehouse, the Museum of Chinese Australian History is a gateway to the past, documenting the contributions of Chinese Australians to Melbourne’s

CRAFT VICTORIA A haven for the hand-made, Craft Victoria is a place to find artworks and products by Australian crafters. There are new exhibitions each month and you can pop in any day of the week to visit the gallery. Hot tip: the shop is full of one-ofa-kind treasures, guaranteeing you’ll never give another unoriginal birthday present. Aspiring artists and fans can join the mailing list for info on free talks, workshops and markets. 31 Flinders Ln, Melbourne | | 03 9650 7775 | Mon-Sat 10am-5pm

THE DAX CENTRE As a well-informed Van Gogh fan would attest, artwork and mental illness is a common equation, but it’s rarely recognised as such. The Dax Centre explores the role of creativity in the lives of people experiencing mental illness and trauma. The fascinating 15,000-piece art collection includes paintings, ceramics and textiles dating back to 1946, when Dr Eric Cunningham Dax first invited a professional artist to work with his psychiatric patients. Kenneth Myer Building, Genetics Lane | The University of Melbourne, Parkville | | 03 9035 6258 | Tue-Fri 10am-4pm | Sat 1-5pm

IMMIGRATION MUSEUM Through photography, art and artefacts, the Immigration Museum tells the stories of the people who’ve made Victoria home since Lieutenant-Governor David Collins and his convicts first arrived in 1803. You’ll find Kurdish homewares, ancient Chinese masks, Albanian wedding dresses, a 250-year-old Qur’an – and possibly one of your ancestors! The museum’s Tribute Garden features the names of 7,000 immigrants from more than 90 countries who have moved to Victoria in the past 200 years. 400 Flinders St, Melbourne | museumvictoria. | 13 11 02 or 03 9927 2700 | Daily 10am-5pm | Adult $10

JEWISH MUSEUM The Jewish Museum is home to more than 12,000 artefacts, from fascinating historical tchotchkes to works of great artistic chutzpah. Every piece on show helps to describe the Jewish experience in Australia. Apart from regular exhibition talks, the museum hosts visits to the historic St Kilda Synagogue and Temple Beth Israel – as well as city walking tours, revealing the fascinating history of Melbourne’s Jewish community. 26 Alma Rd, St Kilda | | 03 8534 3600 | Tue-Thu 10am-4pm | Sun 10am5pm | Adult $10



cultural life. Check out the beautiful textile collections and the regular contemporary art shows or join a Chinatown heritage walk. Meanwhile, if you missed him at Moomba or the Chinese New Year celebrations, the city’s biggest dragon is 63 metres long – and he sleeps in plain sight at the museum. 22 Cohen Pl, Melbourne | | 03 9662 2888 | Daily 10am-5pm | Adult $7.50




A contender for the friendliest place on King Street, the Koorie Heritage Trust invites visitors to step inside the culture of the Aboriginal people of south eastern Australia. Their motto ‘Gnokan Danna Murra Kor-ki’ is a combination of two Koorie languages, and means ‘Give me your hand my friend’. Visitors can wander through exhibitions exploring Koorie history and culture, attend free talks and art workshops, or browse through the on-site library. 295 King St, Melbourne | | 03 8622 2600 | Daily 10am-4pm | Entry by donation

Attending a farmers’ market, scoffing a good lunch, gossiping over coffee and taking in an art show would usually require a whole lot of driving, but it’s all in one spot at Gasworks. This unique inner-city parkland precinct (once the South Melbourne gas plant) hosts ticketed theatre productions alongside free weekly events, workshops and exhibitions. Bring the family, the dog, a picnic basket and/or coffee money and make a day of it. 21 Graham St, Port Melbourne | | 03 8606 4200 | Daily 8am-5pm | Selected events ticketed | Adult from $10

YARRA SCULPTURE GALLERY It probably all started with Stonehenge, but sculptors tend to think big. Of course this can be a problem when gallery doors are only humansized. Yarra Sculpture Gallery to the rescue! Thanks to a 4.2-metre-wide roller door, the centre’s three exhibition spaces are suited to all sorts of objects – from free-standing monoliths to delicate fabric works. Drop in and see for yourself. (Humans enter through the front door.) 117 Vere St, Abbotsford | yarrasculpturegallery. | 03 9419 6177 | Wed-Sun 12-5pm

Small & Independent Spaces C3 CONTEMPORARY ART SPACE If you can tear yourself away from the organic pizzas at the Abbotsford Convent’s weekend markets then you’re in for a real treat. Around the Convent’s grassy side is C3 Contemporary – a warren of inter-connected galleries showing new work by Melbourne artists. The opening events happen on the last Wednesday of every month – a great chance to meet the makers while visiting this spooky heritage building after dark. 1 St Heliers St, Abbotsford | | 03 9416 4300 | Wed-Sun 10-5pm

GERTRUDE CONTEMPORARY Back in the days of the real Underbelly (after Squizzy Taylor stopped terrorising Fitzroy, but before Chopper Read became a painter), a community of artists set up a gallery on Gertrude Street. Twentyeight years later Gertrude Contemporary is world renowned – but still the heart and soul of Fitzroy’s visual arts community. See big exhibitions on the ground level then pop upstairs to the studio gallery, where resident artists exhibit works-in-progress. 200 Gertrude St, Fitzroy | | 03 9419 3406 | Tue-Fri 11am-5.30pm | Sat 11am-4.30pm

INCINERATOR ARTS COMPLEX Designed by Australian legend Walter Burley Griffin and built in 1929, this facility was once used to burn rubbish. Now transformed into an arts complex, these days the Incinerator stokes creative fires only, hosting exhibitions and youth art workshops. Regular shows include the annual aRtECYCLE – a $10,000 competition for artists working with discarded materials. One person’s trash is another person’s Tintoretto! 180 Holmes Rd, Moonee Ponds | incineratorarts. | 03 8325 1750 | Wed-Sun 11am-4pm

Located in sunny St Kilda, this impressive 19thcentury mansion became a contemporary gallery in 1986. Now it’s dedicated to showing new art and being a friendly place to visit. Check out the annual exhibition of contemporary Indigenous art or visit in January for the annual Linden Arts Postcard Show. Limber up your squatting muscles though – anyone can enter and every entry is exhibited so it’s postcards from floor to ceiling. 26 Acland St, St Kilda | | 03 9354 0099 | Tue-Fri 1-5pm | Sat-Sun 11am-5pm

SCREEN SPACE If you want to watch something on the box that’s outside the box, get thee to Screen Space! Housed on Guildford Lane in a beautifully converted warehouse, this is an independent gallery devoted to screen-based art, and art that explores screen culture – from movies to video games. Artists pay no gallery fees to show their work here, so you’ll find some seriously experimental videos inside. No popcorn though – sorry! 30 Guildford Ln, Melbourne | | Wed-Sat 12-6pm

THE SUBSTATION NO VACANCY GALLERY Presenting a packed, year-round program of street art and illustration exhibitions, No Vacancy is very true to its name. So it’s lucky they have two galleries! Look out for exhibitions in the Jane Bell Lane space at QV as well as the Project Space at Federation Square. They host film screenings, art markets and drawing classes, and everyone’s invited. Get there early on drawing nights though, or you’ll miss out on a pencil. 34-40 Jane Bell Ln, Melbourne | | 03 9663 3798 | Tue-Sat 11am-5pm | Sun 12-5pm

Newport’s Substation first opened in 1915, converting electricity for the rail network. Then in 2008 it made another conversion – becoming the largest community art space in the western suburbs. Wander the warren of ground floor galleries to see exciting contemporary art including multimedia and interactive exhibitions. Then, if you get inspired, sign up for an art class. The Substation hosts lessons in drawing (as well as theatre and dance) for kids and adults. 1 Market St, Newport | | 03 9391 1110 | Selected events ticketed | Adult from $12

PIN-UP PROJECT SPACE Not that kind of pin-up! This is a gallery dedicated to design. From hand-crafted furniture to experimental lighting, Pin-Up Project Space features the newest (and sometimes strangest) work by Melbourne’s design community. Hosting monthly exhibitions, the gallery is just one of the tenants inside Collingwood’s ‘Compound Interest Centre for the Applied Arts’ – a creative warehouse that’s also home to a letterpress printer, an illustration gallery and a motorbike workshop. 15-25 Keele St, Collingwood | pinupprojectspace. com | Wed-Fri 11am-6pm | Sat 12-5pm

TINNING STREET GALLERY Founded by Max Blackmore (a skateboarder, tattoo designer and illustrator), Tinning Street Gallery supports artistic up-and-comers – especially emerging artists from Melbourne’s northern suburbs. Welcoming visitors off an alleyway in Brunswick, the gallery sometimes hosts performances too, so check the blog for upcoming gigs and plays. Make sure to pick up The Brick Guide when you visit – it’s a Tinning Street publication all about the art spaces of Brunswick. Lot 5, 29 Tinning St, Brunswick | tinningstreet. | 0422 180 232 | Thu-Sun 11am-5pm







A hideaway located in one of the city’s most decorated alleys, Until Never Gallery hosts shows by respected street artists both local and international. Gallerist Andrew Mac is a longstanding proponent of Melbourne’s laneway art culture so he’s the man to ask if you have any questions – either about the works in the gallery or the paintings on the walls of Hosier Lane below. Lvl 2, 3-5 Hosier Ln, Melbourne | | 03 9663 0442 | Wed-Sat 11am-5pm

Lovely or ugly, street art is always temporary. In fact, the walls in Melbourne’s legal street art zones change almost daily. Since 1996, the Citylights project has been spotlighting new and exciting works for ten weeks at a time – in a series of outdoor lightboxes installed in Hosier Lane. Glowing after sunset, they also help with cobblestone navigation. (Keep one eye on your feet at all times.) Hosier Lane, Melbourne |



These days we call it the Victorian College of the Arts, but once upon a time it was the ‘Gallery School’, founded in 1867 by legendary Australian landscape painter Eugene von Guérard. The VCA Margaret Lawrence Gallery sits beneath studios that have been used by art students since the early 19th century. See up-to-the-minute contemporary exhibitions by international and local artists – and hear tomorrow’s big names creaking about on the floorboards above. 40 Dodds St, Southbank | gallery | 03 9685 9400 | Tue-Sat 12-5pm

Cow Up A Tree, Blow Hole and Heavy Metal Jam Session. They might sound like rock bands, but they’re actually sculptures. You’ll find these and 33 other large-scale works at Melbourne’s Docklands. Walking from River Esplanade in the south to Docklands Drive in the north you’ll spot artworks about Indigenous history, contemporary technology, Melbourne’s maritime past and even Kylie Minogue. Start by downloading the free art walking tour map at


Public Art CITY OF MELBOURNE LANEWAY COMMISSIONS For almost a decade, the City of Melbourne has been using the CBD’s network of laneways as a giant outdoor gallery. The Laneway Commission artworks vary in number and location each year – and the fun is stumbling across tiny worlds hidden in unexpected places. Previous installations have included a solar-powered soundscape, a “breathing building” and even a giant trapeze. Check the website for information about this year’s new commissions. | September–March

It’s the last place you’d expect to see an exhibition but Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway and the EastLink are home to four enormous contemporary sculptures. Look out for Emily Floyd’s 13-metre-high bird, Callum Morton’s very oddly sized hotel, Simeon Nelson’s futuristic fallen tree and James Angus’s shape-shifting sculpture. There are eight smaller works to be found on the EastLink Trail pathway. (Tip: the rest of the time, keep your eyes on the road.)


Described by Lonely Planet as one of the ten best public artworks in the world, Federation Bells is a series of 39 upturned bells installed next to the Yarra at Birrarung Marr. Via computer-controlled hammers, the bells play music by local Australian composers three times each day. The best part is that anyone can compose their own tune on the easy-to-use website, then hear it played in the great outdoors. Birrarung Marr, Riverside, Fed Square, Melbourne | | Performances daily 8-9am, 12.30-1.30pm, 5-6pm

In 1984, a young graffiti artist named Keith Haring visited Melbourne from his native New York City to create a temporary mural at the National Gallery of Victoria. During his stay, Haring (who passed away in 1990) also painted a large-scale work on the wall of the old Collingwood Technical College. One of the world’s only surviving Haring murals, this vital piece of history, while faded, remains for all to see. 35 Johnston St, Collingwood



There are no bookings allowed at No Vacancy’s life-drawing sessions – so make sure you turn up at 6.30pm to get a spot! Ink, pastels, charcoal, pencils, drawing boards and paper are all provided. (And, of course, a model.) Beginners are always welcome. No Vacancy, 34-40 Jane Bell Ln, Melbourne (enter from Russell St) | workshops | 03 9663 3798 | Tue-Wed 7-9pm | $10

Melbourne is famous for its street art, and world-class wall painting abounds in the city’s legal “outdoor galleries”, especially Hosier Lane and Croft Alley. You’ll find artists at work most weekends in Union Lane (off the Bourke Street Mall) – and they’re happy to chat. Beware the aerosol fumes, though.

VCA ART FORUM SERIES PHOTOGRAPHY NIGHT WALKS Meet up with a group of like-minded photography enthusiasts for a night-time expedition through the city. Afterwards, photographers are invited back to Loop Bar to compare their shots on the big screen. “You got the best photo.” “No, you did!” 23 Meyers Pl, Melbourne | or photographynightwalks | 03 9654 0500 | Thu 6.30-8.30pm | Sun 5.30-7.30pm | $15

If you’ve ever wondered what artists think about all day, bring your sandwich to a Thursday lunchtime talk at the Victorian College of the Arts. Each week a different artist discusses their work, followed by a no-holds-barred Q&A. Art Auditorium, Gate 4, Dodds St, Southbank | | 03 9685 9400 | Thu 12.30pm





ARIs An artist-run initiative (also known as an ARI) is an exhibition space run by artists for artists. They are great places to see weird and wonderful art projects – and meet the makers, too. From an exhibition space in a subway to a mini gallery in a row of mailboxes, Melbourne is home to more ARIs than any other Australian city… see if you can find them. 1. 69 SMITH STREET GALLERY


























14. MAILBOX 141

28. WINDOW99




























Spotlights! Ballet tights! Choir nights! Stage frights! (Okay, forget that last one.) Whether they’re performing in a converted meat market, a park or a concert hall, Melbourne’s actors, dancers and directors break a leg every night of the week. Also, if the mood strikes, there’s at least one place where you’re allowed to grab the mic.




When you’re wondering what’s happening on Melbourne’s stages, Richard Higgins is a good man to ask. One half of award-winning comedy duo The List Operators, he also hosts The Last Tuesday Society – a night of short plays and cabaret that happens (guess when?) on the last Tuesday of every month. Richard is a funny guy but he’s dead serious about theatre, so we asked him for some tips.

Hi Richard. Tell us about what you do. I’m a ‘comedy performer’. It’s a very silly job which I enjoy a great deal.

What’s been happening lately in Melbourne’s independent theatre scene? Recently we’ve seen a rise in a certain type of work that I really like – it’s DIY, funny and sits on the fences between art, theatre, comedy and parties. I think people are becoming less interested in making traditional theatre and more interested in creating an “encounter” between audience and performer. (Less “look at us” and more “let’s do this”.) Look out for the Black Lung, the Sisters Grimm, the Hayloft Project, the Suitcase Royale, Post Presents Post, the Brown Council and Slow Clap Productions.

Which theatre venues have you enjoyed visiting recently? The Meat Market is always a great space – it’s both epic and flexible. The Owl and the Pussycat is a Richmond gallery that now has a live theatre venue called The Runcible Spoon. And there are some great things happening with independent artist spaces such as Studio 246 in Brunswick.

Any tips for theatre fans who want to see something new and different? The best way to find out what’s going on in Melbourne’s indie theatre scene is online. Theatre Alive ( is a really comprehensive portal for independent and mainstream theatre, and they have a free newsletter you can sign up to. The other way to stay on top of it is to ‘like’ your favourite little theatre company on Facebook and let them spam you with news about their latest shows.

And what about some advice for us? (The audience...) TURN OFF YOUR PHONE! Unless you are seeing a ‘postdramatic installation happening’ or something, in which case leave it on. Hey, turn it up loud.




SEE Venues ARTS CENTRE MELBOURNE Keep walking towards that giant glowing “spire” and you’ll find Arts Centre Melbourne – Victoria’s most famous performance venue. With three theatres and a concert hall, it’s a place to see big-ticket productions – but you’ll also find small, affordable and exciting new shows all year round. Check out the multicultural and independent theatre programming. (Once they made the audience direct the actors via text message.) 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne | artscentremelbourne. | 1300 182 183 | Adult from $15

ARTS HOUSE, MEAT MARKET It sounds like a single venue, but Arts House is actually a performance program – and it’s so big they need two buildings. North Melbourne’s cavernous “Meat Market” building houses studios, rehearsal rooms, and a huge 31-metre-long hall with cobblestone floors. Formerly home to an actual meat market (don’t worry, they hosed it down), this is one of the biggest performance spaces in Melbourne. Look out for spectacular shows – trapeze swinging included. 5 Blackwood St, North Melbourne | melbourne. | 03 9322 3720 | Adult from $15

ARTS HOUSE, NORTH MELBOURNE TOWN HALL A buzzing creative hub, the second Arts House venue is the historic North Melbourne Town Hall (not to be confused with the pub of the same name across the road). By day, performers rehearse and swap ideas in a friendly warren of studios. By night they stage productions in one of four theatre spaces. (So, there’s always something going on. And yes. A house would definitely be too small.) 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne | | 03 9322 3720 | Adult from $15

BELLA UNION From its home inside Melbourne’s historic Trades Hall, it’s fair to say the Bella Union Bar is creating some history of its own. Presided over by Catherine Woodfield (producer of the musical comedy KEATING!) the venue is a place to find live comedy, theatre performances, story-telling nights, book launches and even go-go dancing classes. Check the program online, but don’t check your bank balance because most tickets are less than $10. Level 1, Trades Hall, 2 Lygon St, Carlton | | 03 9650 5699 | Selected shows ticketed | Adult from $5

THE BUTTERFLY CLUB This tiny performance space has a very large personality. From the red velvet curtains to the vintage doll display in the bar, the Butterfly Club is unlike any other theatre in Melbourne. With up to three performances on any one night it’s also one of the busiest. Definitely check the program online before you visit. If you’re there for the monthly open-mic night Cabaret Live! leave your nerves at the door too please. 204 Bank St, South Melbourne | thebutterflyclub. com | 03 9690 2000 | Adult from $10


The theatre that Geoffrey Rush calls an “industrious hotbed” of the arts started life as a church. Now people come to worship great independent music, comedy, theatre and cabaret, and to spot future superstars in the intimate Loft Theatre upstairs. Settle in for a pre- or post-show drink in the foyer bar, and see what’s on display at Chapel Galleries. 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran | chapeloffchapel. | 03 8290 7000 | Adult from $15

Is it a gallery? Is it a theatre? Happily, fortyfivedownstairs is both. The shows in the basement theatre will give you plenty to discuss while you browse the exhibitions upstairs. The program includes dance, plays and comedy (but keep an eye out for magazine launches and art openings too). Airy and minimalist with brick walls and wooden floorboards, this non-profit space is used for as many activities as artists can dream up. 45 Flinders Ln, Melbourne | fortyfivedownstairs. com | 03 9662 9966 | Gallery open Tue-Fri 11am5pm | Sat 12-4pm | Gallery free | Adult theatre tickets from $15

DANCEHOUSE It’s very hard to resist the footloose fever at Dancehouse. The program is packed with original performances – either developed in-house or presented by guest performers and independent companies. It might be improvisation, new Bollywood or Congolese choreography – but it’s always contemporary dance at Dancehouse. And they can even help you learn the ropes. Become a member for discounts on both performances and classes. 150 Princes St, North Carlton | | 03 9347 2860 | Adult from $15

FOOTSCRAY COMMUNITY ARTS CENTRE As they say in Footscray, “West is best,” and it’s hard to argue after a day at this indoor-outdoor riverside arts hub. The Footscray Community Arts Centre stages performances all year round, including stand-up comedy and storytelling nights. Enjoy another kind of yarn at a crochet salon, or see a hip hop performance in the gardens. And if you forgot your picnic, they serve breakfast all day at the Happy River Cafe. 45 Moreland St, Footscray | | 03 9362 8888 | Tue-Sun 9.30am-5pm | Some events ticketed

(Theatre only)

THE HAYLOFT PROJECT The Hayloft Project doesn’t have its own theatre. It’s a collective of maverick directors and producers who stage plays at ever-changing locations – and they definitely don’t do things by halves. For instance, their production of Chekov’s Platanov involved flooding a warehouse and performing in the middle of a man-made lake. Get a group together for discount tickets and livelier post-show discussions! | Adult from $15

LA MAMA La Mama first opened in 1967 and it’s still going strong – perched on top of an old factory building in Carlton. The heart and soul of theatre in Melbourne, it’s been a launching pad for many of our biggest stars – Cate Blanchett included. Staging more than 50 performances each year in two Carlton venues (the La Mama Courthouse is just around the corner), it’s like our very own ‘off-Broadway’, and very affordable too. 205 Faraday St, Carlton | | 03 9347 6948 | Adult from $25 | Conc. from $15







It began life as a brewery in 1892 – but these days the Malthouse is a theatre. Once they removed the barley crusher and the kegs there was room to build three large performance spaces: the 500-seat Merlyn, the 175-seat Beckett and the 100-seat Tower Theatre. Thanks to the acclaimed Malthouse Theatre Company, the year-round program is packed with contemporary productions at affordable prices. And yes, you can order a beer at the cafe. 113 Sturt St, Southbank | au | 03 9685 5111 | Adult from $10

If things get crazy when lunatics take over the asylum, they definitely get entertaining when actors take over the theatre! Red Stitch’s programming is decided according to what plays the actors most want to perform, so audiences get to see groundbreaking, ensemble-based works that are rarely staged by larger companies. Buying an annual subscription is a good way to support the theatre, and it also gets you $10 off the regular ticket price. Rear, 2 Chapel St, St Kilda | | 03 9533 8083 | Adult from $14



When you’re committed to fearless new theatre, you have to be agile. In recent years the MKA Theatre of New Writing has flitted from an apartment to an abandoned knitting mill to the QV building to the Prahran Mission to an old schoolhouse next door to the Abbotsford Convent. No matter where they are, though, they stage performances of new plays that are ambitious, eccentric, seductive and far-fetched. In the best possible way. | Adult from $15

Short + Sweet is now the biggest festival of ten-minute theatre in the whole world. That’s right: the plays are ten-minutes long. But more than 150 are written and performed at the festival each year, which means it’s impossible to get bored. One minute, romance; the next minute, horror – the whole thing is rather addictive. Before you know it you will have seen 25 hours of plays by Melbourne’s up-and-coming stars. Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran | | 03 8290 7000 | November-December | Adult from $25

MTC LAWLER STUDIO Adorned with glowing white geometric piping, the Melbourne Theatre Company’s new home is hard to miss. Nestled between the Victorian College of the Arts and the Melbourne Recital Centre, the building also houses the MTC’s wonderfully intimate Lawler Studio. Fitting an audience of only 150, the Lawler offers up-close and personal performances throughout the year – and a special price for under-30s theatre fans. 140 Southbank Blvd, Southbank | | 03 8688 0800 | Under-30s tickets $20

THEATRE WORKS Look for the big brick building on Acland Street with the bright red arch and you’ll find Theatre Works – St Kilda’s busiest independent performance space. The box office doubles as a cafe, so you can pop in any time to browse the program over a hot beverage. Don’t expect the old classics on stage though. Theatre Works productions come straight from the brains of local writers – sometimes experimental, always original. 14 Acland St, St Kilda | | 03 9534 3388 | Adult from $15



INSIDER TIPS BE TIGHT ON TUESDAYS Now a hallowed tradition for theatre companies, cinemas and festivals alike, the concept of ‘Tight-Arse Tuesdays’ is simple: Tuesday tickets are often cheaper. The Comedy Festival is especially dedicated to the T.A.T. concept.

BOOK LAST MINUTE Sometimes it pays to be spontaneous. The people at and can help you with cheap, last-minute tickets to performances all over town. (There’s plenty of others too… think of it as a treasure hunt.)

FLASH YOUR CARD Flash your student card every chance you get! The Melbourne Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre and Arts Centre Melbourne offer ‘student rush’ prices for full-time and part-time students. Call ahead to check, then show up at least half an hour early to buy your tickets.

GROUPS ARE GOOD Group prices are always good. The Melbourne Fringe Festival offers group discounts for most shows – explore the program to discover the offers. Or browse the group bookings section of Ticketek’s website.

PEEK THE PREVIEWS Go to previews! You’ll often save money and also see things before anyone else does. Join the mailing list of your favourite theatre company or arts festival and be the first to hear about affordable tickets to early performances.

TEST DRIVE THE ARTS Subscribe to Arts Victoria’s free monthly newsletter Test Drive The Arts for the first word on new theatre productions, musical performances, exhibitions and comedy shows. There are giveaways and discount offers in every issue.


ANNA’S GO-GO ACADEMY It’s hard to imagine not smiling when you’re bopping like Ann-Margret and Elvis in Viva Las Vegas, right? Running three nights of the week at three different inner-urban pubs, Anna’s Go-Go Academy classes cater to beginners as well as the more advanced twinkle toes among us. | 6-class booking $10 per class

BEHIND THE SCENES AT ARTS CENTRE MELBOURNE The jig is up for production directors at Arts Centre Melbourne. Take a Sunday backstage tour to find out how they magically juggle music, lighting, performers and set design for every performance. 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne | | 03 9281 8593 | Sun 12.15pm | Adult $20



Exclusive? Not at all. Bad feet and all are invited to The Australian Ballet’s tours, beginners’ classes, talks and Q&As. Best you have quick feet, though, because they sell out fast. Or visit behindballet. com for behind-the-scenes updates online. Level 5, 2 Kavanagh St, Southbank | | 1300 369 741 | Talks from $10 | Tours from $15

No commitment, no competitions and no self doubt. The Glee Club is just a place to sing your little heart out. Group singing for newbies and experts alike, two nights a week at the Butterfly Club. 204 Bank St, South Melbourne | gleeclubsinging. com | 03 9690 2000 | Tue-Wed 6.15-7.15pm | Adult $10





Amateur dancers can swap lounge-room carpet burn for professional sprung floors by taking one of Chunky Move’s public dance classes. Contemporary, improvisation, ballet and funk are taught in their studios, and chunky discounts are offered through their membership program. 111 Sturt St, Southbank | | 03 9645 5188 | Mon-Thu 6.30-8pm, Sat 10am1.15pm | Single class adult $18

“Oh no, it was a one-off.” Madden your friends and enemies with this useful throwaway line after you tell them you went to a Spanish Fiesta at the Malthouse Theatre. Or a Pinocchio crafternoon. The ever-changing ‘Limited Editions’ event series happens throughout the year. 113 Sturt St, Southbank | au | 03 9685 5111 | Selected events ticketed | Free for Malthouse subscribers



It sounds like a secret club but it’s actually fun in a pub. See some of Melbourne’s best writers and performers try out new material at this monthly event. From poetry to short plays (and songs by “Choir Straits”), see it first at the Last Tuesday Society. Various venues | | Monthly, last Tuesday, 7.30pm | Adult $12

An online hub for independent theatre, this regularly updated website is the place to find info on affordable, fun and cutting-edge local performances – and reviews too. Your own, in fact, if you feel like posting one after a show. Opinions welcome.


Does Melbourne have an official song? If not, maybe someone should write one that goes, “Take me down to the festival city where the art is free and the jokes are witty.”

Read on for fashion in March, comedy in April, design in July, poetry, art, animation, writing, reading, craft, music... Actually, it would be easier to make a calendar of the non-festival months, but where’s the fun in that?

(If you’re looking outside Melbourne, try pg 58-59)




MIDSUMMA Grab some shade under a rainbow flag at this three-week mid-summer arts festival. There’s a huge program of exhibitions as well as cabaret and theatre performances by artists representing Melbourne’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer communities. From sailing days and markets to late-night DJ sets, there’s something for the picnickers as well as the party-people. Many events are free, some are air-conditioned and all are friendly. | 03 9415 9819 | January–February | Some shows ticketed

EXPERIMENTA Held every two years, Experimenta is a seriously intriguing multi-media arts exhibition and festival. Be boggled by Australia’s (and the world’s) newest animation, video and interactive digital art in the main exhibition – and check out the program of performances and events. They mean it when they say “interactive art”. Previous exhibitions have featured a human-sized photocopier and a robot DJ that responded to the audience’s dance moves. | 03 9650 9977 | February–March (biennial, in even years)

ST KILDA FESTIVAL Since 1980, the cafes, bars, galleries and music venues of our famous seaside suburb have pitched in to create an annual nine-day extravaganza called the St Kilda Festival. Think crowds, sun and fun (so much of each that the mobile phone networks sometimes collapse). The festival opens with Yalukit Willam Ngargee – an Indigenous arts event including exhibitions and dance performances – and closes with a day of local music and markets by the beach. | 03 9209 6490

BRUNSWICK MUSIC FESTIVAL Brunswick Music Festival is Australia’s largest inner-city festival of folk, roots and world music. Apart from being one of our most culturally diverse suburbs, Brunswick is also very flat – ideal for outdoor stage building. The ten-day festival is a chance to hear free music, discover new venues and try awesome food. Don’t miss the Sydney Road Street Party on the opening weekend: kids’ shows, music and overeating. | 03 9387 3376

L’OREAL MELBOURNE FASHION FESTIVAL The L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival isn’t JUST about frocks and fancy shoes. It’s also a celebration of the art, film and even music that inspires today’s designers. Check the festival’s Cultural Program for free events including exhibitions and talks at the Penthouse Mouse pop-up warehouse (where you can also go behind-the-scenes at a photoshoot). Meanwhile, art shows and screenings at the NGV and ACMI provide a peek into fashion’s history and its future. | 03 9654 5599

They say laughter is the best medicine – something science has never proven. One thing’s for sure though, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is way more popular than a doctor’s waiting room. With more than 350 shows – from big names at the Melbourne Town Hall to up-and-comers performing in tiny city bars, to kid-friendly events by the Yarra – the laughs range from downright strange to fun for the whole family. | 03 9245 3700 (admin) | March-April | Adult from $10

EMERGING WRITERS’ FESTIVAL Once upon a time, closing hour at the library was the only way to see an emerging writer. Exiting into the cold, they would return home to their lonely typewriters and coffeepots. But not any more! At the Emerging Writers’ Festival aspiring scribes get together, hone their skills, and invite the rest of us to join them. Check out the free events including readings, play performances and the annual Spelling Bee. | 03 9094 7877 | May-June | Some shows ticketed | From $12

NEXT WAVE FESTIVAL Since Victoria’s 150th anniversary in 1985, the ‘next wave’ of Australian artists has been wowing audiences during Next Wave. Held every two years, the festival presents intriguing art, theatre and dance by artists aged under 30. It’s also known for putting on shows in unexpected places – including streets, warehouses, planetariums and railway underpasses. Once they re-created a sitting of the UN in the Carlton Gardens with 47 sausage dogs. | 03 9329 9422 | May (biennial, in even years)

EMERGE FESTIVAL Whether its Burundian drums or Congolese gospel, the Emerge Festival always starts with a massive street party. (Don’t worry, the Ethiopian coffee will keep you going all day.) The multisuburb celebration continues for six weeks with a program of music, art and film made by new refugees and emerging artists who’ve recently settled in Melbourne. There’s food too – but don’t overeat or your stomach will be doing some emerging of its own. | 03 9417 6777 | June-July

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION FESTIVAL (MIAF) Humans have been creating the visual illusion of movement for 2000 years; the Melbourne International Animation Festival (MIAF) explores where animation is heading next. Every year, the eight-day program features films by award-winners and big studios as well as future stars. Also, winter is pretty much the perfect time for settling into an ACMI cinema seat and watching more than 400 films from 30 countries. ACMI, Federation Square, Flinders St, Melbourne | | 03 8663 2200 | Adult from $15




MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL The term ‘free jazz’ doesn’t only describe a particular kind of honking saxophone solo, it also applies to the Melbourne International Jazz Festival program! This annual celebration of improvisation features daily concerts at Fed Square, evening sound walks and nights of dance in the tradition of 20th-century speakeasies... none of which will cost you a note. Alongside these events you’ll find ticketed shows by local and international jazz legends. | 03 9001 1388 | Some shows ticketed | Adult from $12

THE LIGHT IN WINTER When the frost descends, Fed Square warms things up with The Light In Winter – an annual festival that delivers exactly what it promises. Drop by any night to see local and international artists, communities and designers present their glowing creations after sunset. Grab a spot by the totem campfire Leempeeyt Weeyn and enjoy a free program of music, dance, Indigenous storytelling and a very special winter solstice celebration. Federation Square, Flinders St, Melbourne | | June–July

STATE OF DESIGN Whether you’re a student, a studio boss or just a sucker for good design, this is the time to celebrate Victoria’s objects, clothes, buildings, alphabets and the people who invent them. The annual 11-day event includes markets, free talks, screenings and workshops covering fashion, graphic art and architecture. Speaking of which, don’t miss the festival’s free Melbourne Open House event – an excuse to snoop around some of our most mysterious buildings! | 03 9650 3963 | Some shows ticketed | Adult from $20

CRAFT CUBED The name might remind you a bit of high school maths, but this is actually a celebration of all things hand-made. Presented by Craft Victoria, Craft Cubed is a month-long festival of creative handiwork, from knitting and crochet to ceramics and jewellery. There are exhibitions, markets, beginners’ classes and free open studio events where you can watch expert crafters at work. Pick up some gifts and leave with some tips. | 03 9650 7775

MELBOURNE WRITERS FESTIVAL Ever come across a story – either imagined, told or overheard – and thought it should be written down? Starting in late August each year, the Melbourne Writers Festival celebrates the people who’ve committed that inkling to ink (or inkjet). The free and ticketed events program includes talks to satisfy all kinds of word-lovers whether you’re into comics, newspapers, books, blogs or tweets. | 03 9094 7859 | Some shows ticketed | Adult from $21.50

To put it scientifically, the Melbourne Fringe Festival is gi-normo-huge. Thousands of artists, theatre-makers, comedians, dancers and circus performers take over hundreds of venues – filling what seems like every nook and cranny of the city. See the acts you know and love (trying out their best new material) or discover some up-and-coming stars. The tickets are either free or so cheap you’ll run out of steam before you run out of change. | 03 9660 9600 | September–October | Some shows ticketed | Adult from $10

OVERLOAD POETRY FESTIVAL “Alert! Alert! Poetry overload!” It’s lucky that robots don’t run the annual Overload Poetry festival because their brains aren’t built to understand weird words. Now ten years old, Overload celebrates poetry on page, stage and screen, inviting wordsmiths from around the world to read and perform in Melbourne’s bookshops, theatres and cafes. Poets have been known to team up with filmmakers, musicians – and sometimes even puppets – to play with words in unexpected ways. | Some shows ticketed | Adult from $10

MELBOURNE FESTIVAL The Melbourne Festival is as big as it sounds, presenting more than fourteen days of theatre, dance, visual arts, opera, and music by leading artists from around the world (and around the corner, too). Visit the website and you’ll find plenty of free events including exhibitions, screenings, interactive artworks, big public light shows and an ‘Artists in Conversation’ series in the festival lounge (where you are welcome to meet and greet the greats). | 03 9662 4242 | Some shows ticketed | Adult from $25

BIG WEST “You can’t put the west in a box,” say the organisers of the Big West Festival. But you can definitely put it on a stage, under a spotlight or in a gallery. This biennial festival stages cuttingedge, multi-cultural and multi-artform events in the venues, cultural sites and suburban streets of Melbourne’s western suburbs. The huge and mostly free program puts the best art in the west’s most unexpected places. | 03 9689 4880

MELBOURNE MUSIC WEEK Melbourne Music Week celebrates Melbourne’s well-known devotion to live music with a seven-day program of gigs, both indoors and out. The acts range from ARIA award-winners to the newest local bands and the program includes hundreds of free performances. Check the schedule before you head out because it’s musical theatre in the City Square one day and punk bands on trams the next. | 03 9658 9658 | Some shows ticketed | Adult from $10




Seeing live music in Melbourne is easier than catching a tram on Bourke Street. In fact, thanks to “Tram Sessions”, sometimes it’s the same thing as catching a tram on Bourke Street. Anyway, read on for tips about Melbourne’s free shows, cheap tickets, outdoor concerts and music picnics, from the Maribyrnong to the Music Bowl.




A singer, radio presenter and live music enthusiast, Sophia Brous has spent more time backstage, onstage and/or in front of Melbourne’s stages than most. After three years as Program Director for the Melbourne International Jazz Festival she’s now focusing on her own band.

Hi Sophia. Tell us about your band Brous It’s partly inspired by ‘60s and ‘70s psychedelic music, exotica, pop orchestras, French ensemble film… For our debut album we’ve been working with ‘La Voce Della Luna’, an amazing choir made up of 40 Italian grandmothers.

Is Melbourne a music city? We have so many great venues. Programming the Jazz Festival over the years I was really happy to be able to stage shows at the Melbourne Recital Centre, for instance. But I think you start to realise there’s this pulsing heart in our music scene – whether ten people are at a show or 10,000 people are at a show.

Which venues have you been enjoying lately? In Brunswick there’s a great new venue called Phoenix Public House. It reminds me of one of those multi-tiered music halls on board a cruise ship. I keep expecting to see Veronica Lake or Bette Davis walk in (then I see the pots of VB...) I really like the Buffalo Club because it’s an artist-run venue – sort of like an artist-run gallery – based on the idea of encouraging different people to congregate. In North Melbourne I love the Lithuanian Club. Once I walked in off the street and saw a men’s choir singing eight-part Lithuanian folk songs. It was unlike anything I’d ever heard. Also, I recently went on a “sound cruise” down the Yarra. I was so excited. It was organised by the Australian Forum for Acoustic Ecology.

What are your tips for music fans who want to hear something new and different? For people who want to know what’s going on, rad community stations like Triple R and PBS FM are the way in. If you feel passionately about something, Melbourne is a place where you can be rewarded.




HEAR AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL ACADEMY OF MUSIC You and your ham sandwich are invited to enjoy a series of one-hour classical performances by the students at the Australian National Academy of Music at the South Melbourne Town Hall. Whether it’s a cello soloist, a choir, a whole orchestra or a pair of duelling pianos, the program promises a lunch break worth bragging about. 210 Bank St, South Melbourne | | 03 9645 7911 | Recitals 1-2pm, performance calendar online | Entry by donation | Some performances ticketed from $5

FOOTSCRAY COMMUNITY ARTS CENTRE OUTDOORS Perched alongside the ‘Maribyrnong Riviera’, as the locals call it, Footscray Community Arts Centre’s outdoor amphitheatre is one of the best places to catch free outdoor music in Melbourne. Overlooking a row of riverside palms, the grassy stage becomes a summery setting for twilight classical concerts, outdoor opera, and even pop-up cinema screenings. Check the program for hip hop performances and the free music festival ‘African Affair’ presented by Melbourne band Diafrix. 45 Moreland St, Footscray | | 03 9362 8888

That’s when the fruit bats like to swoop around as if they’ve been rehearsing for months. Sidney Myer Music Bowl, King’s Domain, Linlithgow Ave, Melbourne | | 03 9626 1111 | February

ORCHESTRA VICTORIA Fancy some Mozart in Moe? How about Brahms in Bendigo? Apart from playing alongside the Victorian Opera and the Australian Ballet, Orchestra Victoria often loads up the van to offer concerts and youth workshops in the regions. For city slickers, the orchestra plays regular concerts under the glass ceiling in NGV International’s Great Hall as well as at the acoustically high-tech Melbourne Recital Centre. Check the program for upcoming recitals and/or road trips. | 03 9694 3600

SUNSET SERIES Many cities host free outdoor concerts, but Melbourne takes things a step further. Head to the Fitzroy Gardens in January and you’re likely to get a free dance lesson too. The Sunset Series is a program of free outdoor gigs starring indie bands, African drummers, blues groups and more. Join the massive Bollywood tutorial and you can shed your inhibitions while burning some picnic calories. Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne | January |

TRAM SESSIONS MSO SIDNEY MYER FREE CONCERTS Pack a picnic but don’t be late. For four nights each February, thousands of fans descend on the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. From Mozart to Mahler, Melbourne’s 100-piece symphony orchestra plays classical music’s “classics” – often with guest star soloists. If you’re star-gazing from the comfort of your rug, pay attention at sunset.

Melbourne is renowned for its live music and its trams – but nobody thought to combine the two until Tram Sessions came along. Catch live shows on the rails every month or so for the cost of a Zone 1 ticket. Gigs so far have included singer-songwriter Lanie Lane, alternative rockers Fourth Flour Collapse, and the banjo-toting Quarry Mountain Dead Rats playing on the 112 between South Melbourne & Fitzroy.



INSIDER TIPS COMMUNITY RADIO Support community radio! PBS subscribers get special entry prices to PBS events, Triple R subscribers are invited to live shows at the station’s performance space, 3CR subscribers receive a subscription to the CRAM Guide – and all three stations offer subscriber discounts on Melbourne made products ranging from books to bikes. | |

FRONT BAR RESIDENCIES AND IN-STORE PERFORMANCES ‘Front bar shows’ are exactly that: gigs in the front bars at music venues. And they’re always free! The Tote Hotel and the Gem Bar are to great places to start. Also, join the mailing list at your local record shop to get tip-offs about free in-store performances. |

LOCAL MUSIC FESTIVALS Don’t miss the huge range of free gigs during Melbourne Music Week in November, the St Kilda Festival in February and the famous Brunswick Music Festival in March. | |

MELBOURNE MUSIC CITY FREE GUIDE With venue profiles, maps, a music festival calendar, record store recommendations and much more, the Melbourne Music City guide is a pocket-sized companion to our world-famous music scene. And, like plenty of Melbourne gigs, it’s free. It’s available at hundreds of cafes, shops, bars and pubs – or download a copy from Music Victoria’s website.

MELBOURNE RECITAL CENTRE UNDER 30S Under 30? In human years? You can get cheap tickets to selected performances at the Melbourne Recital Centre. Call ahead, then purchase in person – and don’t forget to bring ID! | 03 9699 3333

MSO STUDENT RUSH The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra offers $20 ‘student rush’ tickets for most of their concerts. Call ahead to check – then get to the venue box office one hour before the show. | 03 9929 9600


Did you know that the State Library of Victoria has printed matter dating back to 2050 BC? Oh, you did. Well, did you know that the annual Emerging Writers’ Festival holds a free spelling bee where you can win a trophy made of Scrabble pieces? And Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth once bought poetry books in the Nicholas Building? Knew that too, huh?

Well for everyone who hasn’t already speed-read the next four pages, stay tuned for Melbourne’s sometimes surprising world of words— printed, digital, spoken, hidden and hand-written.




In 2008 Melbourne was officially named a UNESCO City of Literature. Which means we’re just as into reading and writing as we’ve always been, but now the whole world knows it. Our City of Literature headquarters is the Wheeler Centre, a beehive of “BOOKS, WRITING AND IDEAS” right next door to the State Library. Michael Williams is the man in charge, so we asked him for some insider tips.

Hi Michael. So tell us about the Wheeler Centre… Well, the Wheeler Centre was set up to do a couple of different things: to house a whole lot of Melbourne’s existing literary organisations and to run a year-round public program. We come up with fun ideas for events in the world of books, writing and ideas. (Which also means my job never gets boring, because I’m forever meeting people who are doing different, amazing things in publishing.)

How much are the tickets? The vast majority of the events we do are free – and even the ones that aren’t we try and keep really cheap. Also, because we’re based in the middle of the city it’s nice and easy for people to get to us. We’re getting rid of obstacles all over the place!

Do you meet a lot of serious bookworms? A response to a book can be such a personal thing. It’s not about being inside some secret society and knowing the handshake. We have an amazing network of independent booksellers in Melbourne – almost unparalleled anywhere in the world – as well as small publishers, literary bloggers, people making zines… All these different responses to the world of books are what make Melbourne a city of literature.

Any other free event tips for Melbourne’s word fans? Libraries are great – and not just because you don’t have to pay for the books. Most public libraries have events programs and ways that you can tap into the community. If you have a local bookseller, find out what they’ve got coming up. Bookseller events are almost always free. Also, we all know how good the live music scene is in Melbourne but spoken word and poetry events are similarly strong. Look again at any local venue. You’ll be surprised – amongst the music there are almost always writing events too.




READ THE ATHENAEUM LIBRARY Lots of people hurtle along Collins Street never stopping to explore the imposing old Athenaeum building. If they did, they’d discover a 170-year-old library. Overlooking the street, the Athenaeum Library is home to more than 60,000 books (from classics to juicy best sellers). The sign reads “Subscription, one guinea per annum” but everyone’s welcome to browse. (Modern-day memberships are paid in dollars, and $75 includes entry to talks and events year round.) Lvl 1, 188 Collins St, Melbourne | | 03 9650 3100 | Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri 9.30am-5pm | Wed 11am-8pm | Sat 9.30am-1pm

and found some Beat Generation books he’d been hunting for years. Owner Kris Hemensley hosts free readings in the shop and is a goldmine of information about Melbourne’s poetry events. Nicholas Building, Lvl 1, 37 Swanston St, Melbourne | collectedworks-poetryideas. | 03 9654 8873 | Mon-Thu 9.30am5.30pm | Fri 9.30am-6pm | Sat 9.30am-1.30pm

EMERGING WRITERS’ FESTIVAL Tweet up, speak up, and learn to spell the word ‘up’! The annual Emerging Writers’ Festival features free writing ‘bootcamps’, Twitter events and even a Spelling Bee where you can win a trophy made of Scrabble pieces. Wannabe writers of any age can buy affordable tickets to more than ten days of specialist workshops and talks – from ‘Music Writing’ (in a pub) to ‘The Writer’s Toolkit’ (not just pencils). | 03 9094 7877 | May-June | Some shows ticketed | Adult from $12

CLUNES, BACK TO BOOKTOWN For a few days each May, the former gold mining hamlet of Clunes (population 1,000) is home to Booktown – a festival where rare and second-hand booksellers set up shop and hundreds of literature enthusiasts run riot in the streets. Well, they don’t actually run. They amble quietly in the streets browsing hard-to-find page-turners, meeting authors and stopping every now and then for a picnic. Bookworms in paradise. | May

COLLECTED WORKS Melbourne’s unofficial poetry headquarters can be found in the Nicholas Building, perched unassumingly behind a second-hand clothes shop. Founded in 1984, Collected Works stocks new, old and sometimes very rare poetry – Sonic Youth singer Thurston Moore once popped in

MELBOURNE WRITERS FESTIVAL Since 1986, the annual Melbourne Writers Festival has been the main event on the bookworm calendar. These days it’s bigger than ever, with events at Fed Square and the Wheeler Centre as well as in cafes and music venues. Meet your favourite authors, journalists and bloggers, celebrate great pop lyrics and even learn to draw comics. Free events include walking tours and breakfast readings – where you can increase your caffeine intake to professional-writer levels. | | 03 9094 7859 | August-September


From full-time students to curious researchers, everyone’s welcome at the State Library. Be warned, however: there are some good distractions. In the Dome Galleries you’ll find Mirror of the World, an interactive exhibition of the library’s rare printed material (dating back to 2050 BC). Listen to music in the Arts Reading Room, brain-up in the Chess Room or play video games at Experimedia. But don’t forget – they have books too. 328 Swanston St, Melbourne | | 03 8664 7000 | Mon-Thu 10am-9pm | Fri-Sat 10am-6pm | Dome galleries: Daily 10am-5pm

The documents filed at the Victorian Archives Centre contain facts, scandals and mysteries yet to be solved. Join a free tour (through the Get Smart-style security doors) and explore weird and wonderful paperwork dating back to the 1830s. Learn how to access the records, then perch in the high-tech reading room and start uncovering some history. Find your long lost uncle! Find notorious gangster Squizzy Taylor! Hope they’re not the same person! Public Records Office Victoria | 99 Shiel St, North Melbourne | | 03 9348 5600 | Mon-Fri 10am-4.30pm

THE STICKY INSTITUTE ‘Zines’ are hand-made mini magazines, and Melbourne’s zine headquarters is the Sticky Institute. Hidden underground in the Degraves Street Subway this small shop has shelves packed with reading material (at crazy gold-coin prices) and friendly staff to explain it all. If you want to switch from zine-reader to zine-maker, pull up a seat, grab one of Sticky’s typewriters and get to work. That could be your name on the best-seller shelf. Shop 10, Campbell Arcade, Degraves Street Subway, Melbourne | | 03 9654 8559 | Wed-Fri 12-6pm | Sat 12-5pm

THE WHEELER CENTRE: BOOKS, WRITING, IDEAS Did you know that Melbourne is an official UNESCO City Of Literature? We’ve always been a bunch of word lovers, with friendly independent bookshops and publishers all over town, but now the UN has given us a badge to prove it! Our City of Literature headquarters is the Wheeler Centre, which presents a year-round program of free events – from lunchtime ‘soapbox’ talks to weekly readings by debut novelists. (Note: No-one gets an actual badge.) 176 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne | | 03 9094 7800

WOMEN OF LETTERS STORYTELLING NIGHTS Remember at primary school they let us all sit on a rug and listen to stories? It was even better than play lunch. Now a group of Melbourne writers called ‘The Yarn’ are reviving storytime for grown ups. Held in the evenings at cosy bars, their regular monthly events include the Rocket Clock Story Slam (with high-pressure five-minute time limits) and Willow Tales (starring comedians, musicians, journalists and even taxi drivers). Various venues | | Adult from $5

The art of letter writing is being revived at this monthly event organised by writers Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire. Melbourne personalities read out letters they’ve written – both hilarious and serious – and the money raised goes to animal shelter Edgar’s Mission. Past guests include Playschool’s Noni Hazlehurst and comedian Judith Lucy. But it’s not always ladies (once they had rocker Dave Graney) and it’s not all about letters – there are musical interludes too. Thornbury Theatre, 859 High St, Thornbury | | Monthly, Sun 2.30pm | Adult $20





Look! Over there! Is that a building or a cardboard box? Ever felt like talking to a pair of socks? School holidays will do that to you. Luckily, Melbourne has circus classes, music workshops, drum banging, bugs, cardboard cities, sock puppets – and high-voltage pickle cucumbers for kids of all ages.




If you’re looking for something fun to build, draw, play, race or even smell, there are plenty of options in Victoria’s museums, galleries, theatres, art studios and shops. But kids are the real experts so we asked some junior critics to recommend their favourite after school and holiday activities.

“Scienceworks is like a humongous funpark, but inside. I like to race Cathy Freeman.” – THEA, 7

“I went to the Museum. I watched a 3D movie called ‘how the world was made’. The best bit was the volcano. In the bug section I smelled poo, and it smelt like sugar, and one smelt like orange.” – AVA, 6

“I love the dinosaurs at the Museum because they are made out of bones!” – CHRISTOPHER, 4

“We went to NGV. In the kids room I drove a car. We did a drawing and made a mess.” – HANNAH, 5

“I like ACMI Screenworlds because it shows all the old and new stuff about film, television and video games.” – ARCHIE, 11

“At the Arts Centre I watched the puppet animals show and once we made ‘junk puppets’, which are made of rubbish.” – AMY, 8






The ability of children to behave dramatically is well known, and it escalates on weekends and school holidays. ACMI channels this energy with a program of films for kids, as well as free movie-making workshops in the studio. Federation Square, Melbourne | kidsflicks | 03 8663 2200 | Daily 10am-late | Workshops free | Film tickets $6

Arts Centre Melbourne’s year-round kids program includes circus, comedy, lullabies, drum lessons, free storytelling and more. Babies are welcome, kids must be accompanied by an adult – and adults with email addresses can sign up to the newsletter for special offers. 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne | | 1300 182 183 | Tickets from $16 | Accompanying adult free

ARTPLAY A unique opportunity for children up to 13 years of age and their families to take part in interactive workshops and creative projects with professional artists. Mostly free, the activities range from cardboard maze-making to sock puppet theatres and circus training. Birrarung Marr, Riverside, Fed Square, Melbourne | | 03 9664 7900 | Wed-Fri 10am-2pm | Sat-Sun noon-4pm | Selected workshops from $15 child

MELBOURNE MUSEUM CHILDREN’S GALLERY From scary skeletons on the Dinosaur Walk to those creepy insects in the Bugs Alive exhibition, Melbourne Museum is a kid magnet. Don’t miss the dedicated Children’s Gallery with its handson exhibits for kids aged 3 to 8, all inside a giant Rubik’s Cube. 11 Nicholson St, Carlton | au | 13 11 02 | Daily 10am-5pm | Adult $10 | Child aged 3-16 free





Several times a year the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra plays concerts especially for kids. Sitting right next to the orchestra, children aged from 3 to 7 can sing, dance, bang on things and break all the usual concert rules. (Okay, and adults can too.) Various venues | | 03 9929 9600 | Adult from $18 | Child from $12

Sitting quietly is definitely not a requirement at Polyglot Theatre. During their shows, small audience members can roam the sets midperformance – and sometimes even help to build them. People of all ages will agree that constructing a giant cardboard city seriously beats watching TV. 27A Cromwell Rd, South Yarra, and various venues | | 03 9827 9667 | Children and adults from $10

NGV KIDS SPACE Most children aged eight and under have re-enacted Edward Munch’s The Scream at some point. And they’re welcome to do so in the NGV Kids Space, too! But there are also plenty of activities, games and multimedia displays to keep future artists busy. NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne | | 03 8662 1555 | Wed-Mon 10am-5pm

STATE LIBRARY FOR KIDS You might think the “Sshhh” rule excludes kids from the library. Myth! The State Library has story-time for pre-schoolers, Baby Bounce sessions for under-twos, kids tours, school holiday programs, a Play Pod and gaming consoles for little technocrats. 328 Swanston St, Melbourne | whats-on/childrens-activities | 03 8664 7000 | Mon-Thu 10am-9pm | Fri-Sat 10am-6pm




Named after Bunjil the eagle (and ‘aka’, meaning land), the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre is Melbourne Museum’s ‘creation place’. Join weaving or boomerang decorating workshops, listen to traditional stories and discover native plants in Milarri Garden. 11 Nicholson St, Carlton | au/bunjilaka | 13 11 02 | Daily 10am-5pm | Adult $8 | Children free

Orchestra Victoria’s free regional workshops introduce young people to the world of orchestral performance. Any secondary school-aged music student can apply, and the weekend-long workshops include tutorials, full orchestra rehearsals and performances. | 03 9694 3600

SCIENCEWORKS EXPRESS MEDIA Running workshops, competitions and its very own publication (Voiceworks), Express Media exists to help young people achieve their written-word dreams. Watch out for National Young Writers’ Month – a program of online and offline activities to keep those keyboards clicking in winter. | 03 9094 7887 | Selected events ticketed | From $20

Scienceworks has a high-voltage pickle cucumber and a machine that makes three-metre lightning bolts. And that’s just in the Lightning Room! Sure it’s educational, but Scienceworks is also like being inside a 3D action movie where you’re allowed to touch everything. 2 Booker St, Spotswood | au/scienceworks | 13 11 02 | Daily 10am-4.30pm | Adult $10 | Child aged 3–16 free





Beginning life as a railway signal box for Flinders Street Station, Signal is now a fully equipped arts studio. Creative types aged 13 to 20 can learn the ropes of radio, make art, create animations and more – plus no-one ever misses the train home. Flinders Walk, Northbank, Melbourne | | 03 8696 5400

A ‘zine’ is a small, hand-made magazine – and The Sticky Institute can teach you how to make one. Browse shelves full of tiny publications, learn to use the badge-making machine or rifle through the swap box (someone once left a typewriter in there). Shop 10, Degraves Street Subway, Melbourne | | 03 9654 8559 | Wed-Fri 12-6pm | Sat 12-5pm

ST MARTINS YOUTH ARTS CENTRE St Martins Youth Arts Centre runs fun (and free!) holiday drama programs at the Substation Newport, while over 16’s can hone their theatre skills at casual $15 workshops every Friday evening. Kids of all ages are welcome in the audience, too – all St Martins productions are free or cheap! The Substation, 1 Market St, Newport | 44 St Martins Ln, South Yarra | stmartinsyouth. | 03 9867 2477 | Adult from $10

VICTORIAN OPERA EDUCATION Einstein once said, “The Magic Flute is one of those works that is capable of enchanting a child.” The Victorian Opera definitely agrees! Check out their year-round program of workshops, Victorian Youth Opera events and performances especially for school students. | 03 9001 6400


Victoria’s regions are home to booktowns, biennales and banjo jambourees. Not to mention film festivals, folk music and even ‘fotos’. If your lawn needs mowing this weekend, beware: the following pages include fifty-two excuses for a road trip.

Goldfields ART GALLERY OF BALLARAT Soon after Ballarat’s first prospector shouted “Gold!” in 1881, approximately 60,000 other miners showed up and the boom times began. Built in 1887, the Art Gallery of Ballarat is an opulent example of gold rush-era architecture, holding an impressive art collection dating back to colonial times. Of course, some prefer the contemporary exhibitions – and some head straight for the handmade chocolates in the cafe. Fortune is found in many forms. 40 Lydiard St North, Ballarat | artgalleryofballarat. | 03 5320 5858 | Daily 9am-5pm | Selected exhibitions from adult $15

BENDIGO ART GALLERY Perched on the city’s steepest hill, Bendigo Art Gallery offers killer views outside and in. There’s a big collection of modern and contemporary works – by artists including Fred Williams, Arthur Boyd, Tracey Moffat and Patricia Picinnini – and some seriously road-trip worthy international touring shows on the program. Come for the exhibitions, stay on for the gallery shop browsing and some top-notch coffee. 42 View St, Bendigo | www.bendigoartgallery. | 03 5434 6088 | Daily 10am-5pm

CASTLEMAINE ART GALLERY Reflecting the Mt Alexander region’s boom days, Castlemaine Art Gallery proudly displays 19th-century landscape art’s big guns – Streeton, Roberts, McCubbin and more. But the elegant 1930s art deco building also holds a big range of Australian modernist painting and photography, plus works by contemporary stars including Rick Amor and Jeffrey Smart. A bequest has resulted in an impressive collection of Australian ceramics, and the gallery also boasts regional Victoria’s only restoration and conservation studio. 14 Lyttleton St, Castlemaine | castlemainegallery. com | 03 5472 2292 | Mon-Fri 10am-5pm | Sat-Sun 12-5pm

Grampians ARARAT REGIONAL GALLERY Ararat is famous for many things: its spectacular mountain ranges, its gold rush history and its J-Ward Gaol building (once home to the criminally insane). But it also boasts one of Victoria’s largest collections of textile art. Check out the quilts, soft sculpture and embroidery at Ararat Regional Art Gallery in the historic Town Hall building. The program of talks and workshops includes Needles and Pins – a series of children’s textile classes. Cnr Vincent St and Western Hwy, Ararat | | 03 5352 2836 | Mon 10am-4.30pm | Wed-Fri 10am-4.30pm | Sat-Sun 12-4pm





HAMILTON ART GALLERY Founded 50 years ago, Hamilton Art Gallery was originally opened to showcase the private collection of local pastoralist Herbert Shaw. He had acquired almost 1,000 pieces of 19th century decorative arts and needed somewhere to put them. Half a century later the gallery is home to more than 7,000 artworks – including Australia’s largest collection of Paul Sandby English watercolours (second only to the Queen’s collection at Windsor Castle) – and all in their original frames. 107 Brown St, Hamilton | | 03 5573 0460 | Mon-Fri 10am-5pm | Sat 10am-12pm and 2-5pm | Sun 2-5pm

HORSHAM REGIONAL ART GALLERY As well as an awesome acronym, Horsham Regional Art Gallery (HRAG) has a focus on photography. Early acquisitions – including Max Dupain’s Meat Queue – established a collection that now includes contemporary icons Bill Henson and Carol Jerrems as well as young gun Christian Thompson. The Wimmera’s only public gallery, HRAG also holds more than 100 artworks about the region including paintings by Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd. A must-visit on your next drive north west. 21 Roberts Ave, Horsham | horshamartgallery. | 03 5362 2888 | Tue-Fri 10am-5pm | Sat-Sun 1-4pm

Mornington Peninsula MCCLELLAND GALLERY AND SCULPTURE PARK Wander the 16 hectares of rolling green hills surrounding McClelland Gallery and you’ll find 70 sculptures by some of Australia’s most prominent artists – as well as the original studio of renowned Australian painter Harry McClelland. Visit for the annual McClelland Sculpture Survey & Award exhibition, or pop into the gallery for one of the regular ‘Art Chats’. Inside you’ll find three exhibition spaces, a library and a cosy cafe. 390 McClelland Dr, Langwarrin | | 03 9789 1671 | Tue-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry by donation

MORNINGTON PENINSULA REGIONAL GALLERY Bounded by two bays and the open waters of Bass Strait, the Mornington Peninsula is a dramatic stretch of land. No wonder it’s been the subject of so many paintings over the years. Visitors to the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery can see landscape works dating back to the 19th century alongside cutting edge contemporary art – and take home a piece of Peninsula art history thanks to the beautiful cards in the MPRG shop. Dunns Rd, Civic Reserve, Mornington | | 03 5975 4395 | Tue-Sun 10am-5pm | Adult from $4

BURRINJA GALLERY AND CULTURAL CENTRE You’ll find an Indigenous art gallery, a contemporary art gallery, a cafe, a shop and a huge program of performances and workshops at this bustling cultural centre. Don’t miss the Burrinja Collection – Indigenous and oceanic art from Papua New Guinea – on show in four separate exhibitions each year. Meanwhile, regular events include ‘The Creepers’ craft meeting on the first Sunday of the month, and the annual winter Lantern Parade. 351 Glenfern Rd, Upwey | | 03 9754 8723 | Tue-Sun 10.30am-4pm | Adult $5

MONTSALVAT They sure don’t make ‘em like this anymore. Montsalvat is Australia’s oldest artist colony, built by founder Justus Jörgensen and friends in the 1930s. Set amongst twelve acres of rolling gardens, the beautiful mud brick cottages function as artist studios to this day. There is a constantly evolving roster of exhibitions and workshops on offer, as well as performances in the Great Hall. But simply exploring the gardens is worth the trip. 7 Hillcrest Ave, Eltham | | 03 9439 7712 | Daily 9am-5pm | Adult from $14

NILLUMBIK ART COLLECTION OPEN STUDIOS Nillumbik is famous for its community of artists, and especially for its open studio events – held on two weekends in November and one weekend

in May. Visitors can meet artists at work in Eltham, Diamond Creek, St Andrews, North Warrandyte, Kangaroo Ground, Bend of Islands and Cottles Bridge. A great place to start is the Eltham Library Community Gallery, which hosts group exhibitions by participating artists on open studio weekends. Eltham Library, Panther Pl, Eltham | | 03 9433 3359

TARRAWARRA MUSEUM OF ART Perched rather grandly on a hilltop, the TarraWarra Museum of Art lives right next door to the TarraWarra winery – and from outside, the building’s curves seem to match the surrounding landscape. Inside, the collection features famous Australian artworks (from the 20th century and today) including paintings by Brett Whiteley, John Brack and Russell Drysdale. Explore or hear an artist talk, then survey the view from a window seat at the Winebar cafe. 311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd, Healesville | | 03 5957 3100 | Tue-Sun 11am-5pm | Adult from $5

Great Ocean Road GEELONG ART GALLERY One of Australia’s most famous colonial paintings is Eugène von Guérard’s View of Geelong (1856) and, appropriately, you can visit it at Geelong Gallery. Visitors will also discover a big collection of 19th and 20th century paintings, regular contemporary art shows and “eye spy” gallery tours for kids. Pop next door to the Geelong Performing Arts Centre for music, theatre and dance performances year round. Two great excuses for a Princes Highway excursion. Little Malop St, Geelong | | 03 5229 3845 | Daily 10am-5pm



Yarra Valley/ Dandenong Ranges


WARRNAMBOOL ART GALLERY Established in 1886, this gallery has been collecting art for more than 120 years. Wandering in from Warrnambool’s Civic Green, visitors can check out famous Victorian landscapes by Eugene von Guerard and Louis Buvelot as well as paintings by the 20th century Australian artists known as ‘The Angry Penguins’. There are plenty of works by local artists to discover in the three gallery spaces, not to mention handmade jewellery to try on in the shop. 26 Liebig St, Warrnambool | www.warrnambool. | 03 5559 4949 | Mon-Fri 10am-5pm | Sat-Sun 12-5pm

Gippsland EAST GIPPSLAND ABORIGINAL ARTS A creative headquarters for the East Gippsland Aboriginal Arts Corporation, this gallery is a place to see contemporary art and learn about markings used by the Gunai/Kurnai people – traditional inhabitants of the Gippsland region. Pick up information about community events and ask about the Bataluk Cultural Trail – a fascinating way to explore the Indigenous heritage of the region, from the truth about scar trees to the tale of Borun the Pelican. 222 Nicholson St, Bairnsdale | | 03 5153 1002 | September to April Mon-Fri 9am-5pm | Sat 10am-2pm

EAST GIPPSLAND ART GALLERY Don’t just look – there’s also plenty to do at East Gippsland Art Gallery. Alongside its 22 exhibitions each year, the gallery coordinates regular workshops

and events including the Summer Feast of Film and school holiday art classes. Artist books are a special focus at EGAG. Visit during winter for the Books... beyond words exhibition and see hand-made journals by artists from all over the world (not to mention all over East Gippsland). 2 Nicholson St, Bairnsdale | | 03 5153 1988 | Tue-Fri 10am-4pm | Sat 10am-2pm

GIPPSLAND ART GALLERY, SALE The Gippsland Art Gallery is famous for its collection of art depicting nature. Specifically – paintings, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, woodwork and metalwork either made in or inspired by the hills and vales of Gippsland. The gallery has three exhibition spaces, a sculpture courtyard and a cafe with views to match the art. Look out for their free monthly “Slow Art Sunday” tours, or join the annual “Big Draw” (clue: it’s not a raffle). 68 Foster St, Sale | | 03 5142 3372 | Mon-Fri 10am-5pm | Sat-Sun 12-4pm

LATROBE REGIONAL GALLERY The Latrobe Regional Art Gallery’s collection includes more than 1,500 art works – from iconic Australian paintings to an impressive array of rare perfume bottles. The gallery is well known for its glass collection – in fact, many of Australia’s most prominent contemporary glass artists began their careers at the nearby Gippsland School of Art. Browse the shop for jewellery, glassware, textiles, ceramics and toys by designers from Gippsland and across Victoria. 138 Commercial Rd, Morwell | | 03 5128 5700 | Mon-Fri 10am-5pm | Sat-Sun 11am-4pm

BENALLA ART GALLERY Located in the heart of ‘bushranger country’, Benalla Art Gallery’s collection reflects the area’s notorious history. You’ll find work from Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series as well as Indigenous pieces and hundreds of contemporary works. Despite its connections with Victoria’s colonial history, the gallery is housed in a striking modernist building. (And these days it’s perfectly safe to eat a picnic beside the lake.) Bridge St, Benalla | | 03 5762 3027 | Daily 10am-5pm

SHEPPARTON ART MUSEUM The Shepparton Art Gallery changed its name to the ‘Shepparton Art Museum’. So now you can call it SAM (instead of SAG). A friendly name for a friendly place. After some exciting renovations, the museum reopened in February 2012 with a biggerthan-ever program of local community and touring exhibitions. Don’t miss the outdoor Drawing Wall – and say hi to Louis the dog sculpture, who sits between the two gumtrees near the door. 70 Welsford St, Shepparton | sheppartonartgallery. | 03 5832 9861 | Phone for opening hours

SWAN HILL REGIONAL ART GALLERY Established in 1966, the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery was originally located on a paddle-steamer! Soon the collection outgrew its floating home and moved to a new woolshed-style headquarters built from Murray River red gum and hand-made mud bricks. Apart from hosting the annual Swan

Hill Print and Drawing Awards, the gallery is famous for its collection of ‘Naïve art’ – in other words, works made by self-taught artists. Horseshoe Bend, Swan Hill | www.swanhill.vic. | 03 5036 2430 | Tue-Fri 10am-5pm | Sat-Sun 11am-5pm | Entry by donation

WANGARATTA ART GALLERY Heritage buffs know that the Wangaratta Art Gallery building is actually a former church – with some of the original stained glass windows still intact! The gallery hosts 14 diverse exhibitions each year, with regular wine and cheese nights, coffee mornings and artist talks. But the special focus of its collection is textiles. People come from far and wide to see the biennial Contemporary Textile Award exhibition (but please keep your coffee away from the cushions). 55-60 Ovens St, Wangaratta | www.wangaratta. | 03 5722 0865 | Mon-Tues 12-5pm | Wed-Fri 10am-5pm | Sat-Sun 1-4pm

Daylesford/ Macedon Ranges CONVENT GALLERY An important thing to know about Daylesford’s picturesque Convent Gallery is that it has a cafe called Bad Habits. What would the nuns think about that? Perched on Wombat Hill, this 19th century mansion was built by a goldrush millionaire before spending the next 100 years as a convent. These days it’s home to a three-level contemporary art gallery, a pottery collection, a flower-filled sculpture garden and a regular ghost tour! Cnr Hill St and Daly St, Daylesford | | 03 5348 3211 | Daily 10am-4pm | Adult $5



The Murray



Art in the Regions From scarf festivals to sculpture shows, banjo jambourees and booktowns, there is something to celebrate every month of the year in Victoria’s regions. Choose your destination below and plan an art road trip!

JANUARY 1. Lavandula’s Lavender Harvest Festival | 2. Peninsula Summer Music Festival |

FEBRUARY 3. Bruthen Blues and Arts Festival |


4. Three One Six Oh! Film Festival |

The Murray



Daylesford/ Macedon Ranges




Goldfields Hamilton

Yarra Valley/ Dandenong Ranges


Mornington Peninsula Warrnambool


Great Ocean Road Phillip Island

13. Creative Gippsland Arts Festival |

5. Castlemaine State Festival (biennial, odd years) |

14. Dandenong Ranges Open Studios |

6. SheppARTon Festival |

15. Nillumbik Artists Open Studios, Eltham |

7. Yackandandah Folk Festival |


8. Yarra Glen Art Show, Dixons Creek |

APRIL 9. Horsham ART IS… Festival | 10. Mount Beauty Music Festival | 11. Performing and Visual Arts Festival, Emerald |

MAY 12. Back To Booktown, Clunes |

16. Scarf Festival | 17. Woodend Winter Arts Festival |

JULY 18. Echuca-Moama Winter Blues | 19. Mildura Writers Festival | 20. Stitched Up Festival |

AUGUST 21. Ballarat International Foto Biennale (biennial, odd years) | 22. Kelly Country Pick |


23. Wildlife Arts Festival |

High Country

SEPTEMBER 24. Art Beat Festival, Melton | 25. Guildford Banjo Jamboree | 26. Kyneton Daffodil & Arts Festival | 27. Yarra Valley Open Studios |

OCTOBER 28. Lorne Sculpture | 29. Mansfield High Country Festival and Spring Arts | 30. Nati Frinj, Natimuk | 31. Port Fairy Spring Music Festival | 32. Wangaratta Festival of Jazz and Blues |

NOVEMBER 33. Halls Gap Film Festival | www. 34. McClelland Sculpture Survey and Award (biennial, even years) | 35. Phillip Island Jazz Festival |


36. High Tide Festival |

Gippsland Lakes Entrance






AND MORE... There’s plenty of (free) ways to find out what’s happening in Melbourne right now… Check out these pages for Melbourne music maps, theatre thought-starters, CBD secrets and traveller tips (useful in your own town too!).

Visit Victoria Lost & Found The Thousands Melbourne Broadsheet

TimeOut Melbourne rne/ Test Drive the Arts newsletter Everguide Milkbar Mag


Melbou rne Mu http://w sic City ww.mus Guide icvictori Docume nts/MM u/assets CGUIDE / _final.pd Diggin’ f Melbou http://d rne Map igginme lbourne .wordpre

/ Beat .beat.c w w /w http:/ ss Inpre press 166/ street / :/ /IN_1 p t N I / ht s g _ma online



MU SIC Triple J online gig guide Mess + Noise ww.m http://w

THE ATR E Theatre Alive

REA DIN G & WR ITIN G Wheeler Centre

VIS UA L ART Arts What’s On Art Guide

DES IGN The Design Files



Only Melbourne!/OnlyMelbourne That’s Melbourne!/thats_melbou rne Daily Melbourne!/dailymelbourne

Melbourne Visitor Centre ce/ re/ cent itore-vis melbourn



Burrinja Gallery and Cultural Centre pg 55 Bus Projects pg 14 The Butterfly Club pg 20, 24 C3 Contemporary Art Space pg 10

69 Smith Street Gallery pg 14

Castlemaine Art Gallery pg 53 Castlemaine State Festival pg 59

Abbotsford Convent pg 10

Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP) pg 8

Anna’s Go-Go Academy pg 24

Chapel Off Chapel pg 21, 22

Ararat Regional Gallery pg 53

Chapter House Lane pg 14

Art Beat pg 14

Chinese Museum pg 8

Art Beat Festival pg 59

Chunky Move pg 25

Art Gallery of Ballarat pg 53

City Gallery pg 6

ArtPlay pg 48

City of Melbourne Laneway Commissions pg 12

Arts Centre Melbourne pg 6, 20, 23, 24, 47, 48

Citylights pg 12

Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall pg 20

Clunes, Back to Booktown pg 42, 59

Arts House, Meat Market pg 19, 20

Collected Works pg 42

Arts Project Australia pg 8

Conical pg 14

The Athenaeum Library pg 42

Convent Gallery pg 57

Australian Ballet Centre pg 24

Craft Cubed pg 30

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) pg 6

Craft Victoria pg 9, 30 Creative Gippsland Arts Festival pg 59

Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) pg 6, 28, 29, 47, 48

Dancehouse pg 21

Australian National Academy of Music pg 36

Dandenong Ranges Open Studios pg 59

Australian Print Workshop pg 8

The Dax Centre pg 9

Australian Tapestry Workshop pg 8

Dear Patti Smith pg 14 Docklands Sculptures pg 12

Back to Booktown, Clunes pg 42, 59 (see also Clunes, Back to Booktown) Ballarat International Foto Biennale pg 59 Bella Union pg 20 Benalla Art Gallery pg 57 Bendigo Art Gallery pg 53 Big West pg 31 Blindside pg 14 Brunswick Arts Space pg 14 Brunswick Music Festival pg 28, 37 Bruthen Blues and Arts Festival pg 58 The Buffalo Club pg 35 Bunjilaka Hands On Workshops pg 50

The Dolls House pg 14 East Gippsland Aboriginal Arts pg 56 East Gippsland Art Gallery pg 56 Eastlink pg 12 Echuca-Moama Winter Blues pg 59 Eltham Library pg 55 Emerge Festival pg 29 Emerging Writers’ Festival pg 29, 38, 42 Experimenta pg 28 Express Media pg 50 Federation Bells pg 13

Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts pg 11

Footscray Community Arts Centre pg 21, 36

The Lithuanian Club pg 35

fortyfivedownstairs pg 21

L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival pg 28 Loop Bar pg 13

Gasworks Arts Park pg 10

Lorne Sculpture pg 59

Geelong Art Gallery pg 55 The Gem Bar pg 37

Mailbox 141 pg 14

Gertrude Contemporary pg 10

Malthouse Theatre pg 22, 23, 25

Gippsland Art Gallery pg 56

Mansfield High Country Festival and Spring Arts pg 59

Guildford Banjo Jamboree pg 59

McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park pg 54 Halls Gap Film Festival pg 59

McClelland Sculpture Survey and Award pg 54, 59

Hamilton Art Gallery pg 54

Melbourne Festival pg 31

Hand Held Gallery pg 14

Melbourne Fringe Festival pg 23, 31

The Hayloft Project pg 19, 21

Melbourne International Animation Festival pg 29

Heide Museum of Modern Art pg 6

Melbourne International Comedy Festival pg 23, 29

High Tide Festival pg 59

Melbourne International Jazz Festival pg 30, 35

Horsham ART IS… Festival pg 59

Melbourne Museum pg 7, 47, 48, 50

Horsham Regional Art Gallery pg 54

Melbourne Music City Guide pg 37, 60 Melbourne Music Week pg 31, 37

Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia pg 7

Melbourne Propaganda Window pg 14

Ian Potter Museum of Art pg 7

Melbourne Recital Centre pg 35, 36, 37

Immigration Museum pg 9

Melbourne Town Hall pg 6, 29

Incinerator Arts Complex pg 10

Melbourne Writers Festival pg 30, 42 Midsumma pg 28

Jewish Museum pg 9

Mildura Writers Festival pg 59 MKA Theatre of New Writing pg 22

Keith Haring Mural pg 13

Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) pg 7

Kelly Country Pick pg 59

Montsalvat pg 55

Kings ARI pg 14

Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery pg 54

Koorie Heritage Trust pg 10

Mount Beauty Music Festival pg 59

Kyneton Daffodil & Arts Festival pg 59

MSO pg 36, 37, 49 Sidney Myer free concerts pg 36

La Mama Courthouse pg 21

MTC Lawler Studio pg 22

La Mama pg 21 Last Tuesday Society pg 19, 25

Nati Frinj pg 59

Latrobe Regional Gallery pg 56

Next Wave Festival pg 29

Lavandula’s Lavender Harvest pg 58

NGV International pg 7, 36, 47, 49

The Library Artspace pg 14

Nillumbik Art Collection pg 55

The Light in Winter pg 30

Nillumbik Artists Open Studios, Eltham pg 59

Light Projects pg 14

No Vacancy Gallery pg 11 Life drawing pg 13


Federation Square pg 6, 7, 11, 30, 48


Off The Kerb pg 14

The Substation pg 11, 51

Old Treasury pg 7

Sunset Series pg 36

Orchestra Victoria pg 36, 50

Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery pg 57

Overload Poetry Festival pg 31 The Owl and the Pussycat pg 14, 19

TarraWarra Museum of Art pg 55 TCB Art Inc. pg 14

Paradise Hills pg 14

Test Drive the Arts pg 23, 60

Performing and Visual Arts Festival, Emerald pg 59

Theatre Alive pg 19, 25, 61

Peninsula Summer Music Festival pg 58

Thornbury Theatre pg 43

Phillip Island Jazz Festival pg 59

Three One Six Oh! Film Festival pg 58

Photography Night Walks pg 13

Tinning Street Gallery pg 11

Theatre Works pg 22

Pin-up Project Space pg 11

The Tote Hotel pg 37

Platform Public Contemporary Art Spaces pg 14

Tram Sessions pg 32, 36

Polyglot Theatre pg 49

Trocadero Art Space pg 14

Port Fairy Spring Music Festival pg 59

Twenty By Thirty pg 14

Pyramid Projects pg 14 Until Never Gallery pg 12 Rear View pg 14 Red Stitch Actors Theatre pg 22

VCA Art Forum Series pg 13 VCA Margaret Lawrence Gallery pg 12

Scarf Festival pg 59 Scienceworks pg 47, 50

Victorian Archives Centre, Public Record OfďŹ ce of Victoria (PROV) pg 43

Screen Space pg 11

Victorian Opera pg 51

Seventh Gallery pg 14 Shepparton Art Museum pg 57

Wangaratta Art Gallery pg 57

SheppARTon Festival pg 59

Wangaratta Festival of Jazz pg 59

Short + Sweet pg 22

Warrnambool Art Gallery pg 56

Signal pg 51

West Space pg 5, 14

St Heliers Street Gallery, Abbotsford Convent pg 14

Wheeler Centre pg 41, 42, 43, 61

St Kilda Festival pg 28, 37

Window99 pg 14

St Martins Youth Arts Centre pg 51

Women of Letters pg 43

State Library of Victoria pg 8, 38, 43, 49

Woodend Winter Arts Festival pg 59

Wildlife Arts Festival pg 59

State of Design pg 30 The Sticky Institute pg 43, 51

Yackandandah Folk Festival pg 59

Stitched Up Festival pg 59

Yarra Glen Art Show, Dixons Creek pg 59

Street Art Tours pg 13

Yarra Sculpture Gallery pg 10

Storytelling Nights pg 43

Yarra Valley Open Studios pg 59

Studio 246 pg 19

Arts Victoria is the State Government body dedicated to the arts. We support a diverse mix of arts activity in Melbourne and right across the State; assist local artists and arts companies to do their thing; safeguard our State’s cultural treasures; and work hard to ensure that the arts are accessible to all. We’re proud of the abundant creativity that Victoria has to offer – and we invite you to get out there and discover it for yourself.

Made with love for Arts Victoria by Right Angle Studio 43 Derby Street, Collingwood VIC 3066 Telephone: +61 3 9417 0003 Project Coordinators: Andrew Moller, Mel Campbell. Editor: Penny Modra. Editorial Assistant: Marissa Shirbin. Contributors: Royce Akers, Mel Campbell, Samantha Chater, Kane Daniel, Jared Davis, Alexander Ford, Eugenia Lim, Ronan MacEwan, Samson McDougall, Joe Miranda, Geoff Newton, Max Olijnyk, Dylan Rainforth, Tim Scott, Leith Thomas, Jennifer Walsh. Design: Smart Works. Photography: tin & ed. ISBN 978-1-922045-00-3

This little book is your guide to hundreds of free and affordable goings-on in Melbourne – and right around Victoria. Read on for music, comedy, art, theatre, dance, reading and road trips.

ISBN 978-1-922045-00-3

Cheap Arts Guide  

This little book is a guide to hundreds of free and affordable goings-on in Melbourne – and right around Victoria. Read on for music, comedy...

Cheap Arts Guide  

This little book is a guide to hundreds of free and affordable goings-on in Melbourne – and right around Victoria. Read on for music, comedy...